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Tuesday, 1 November 1983
Page: 2096

Mr STEELE HALL —I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In view of the reply of the office of the Deputy Premier of New South Wales to the National Times on Mr Ferguson's behalf that he had no knowledge of the content of the Australian Federal Police transcripts concerning Messrs Jackson and Harris, does the Prime Minister stand by his previous reply that Mr Ferguson was informed of these matters by the honourable member for Port Adelaide, the former Special Minister of State, on 16 May this year?

Mr HAWKE —I stand by the simple factual situation.

Mr Peacock —That you are not telling the truth.

Mr HAWKE —Mr Speaker, I do not know whether we have to continue to listen to these pathetic interjections by the Leader of the Opposition. He has as much chance of advancing his cause in this way as Amarant had of winning the Melbourne Cup, and Amarant had the good sense to pull up. I repeat the facts because the slow learners on the other side seem to have enormous difficulty in understanding them. The facts are simple and straightforward. We on this side of the House, as always, have been consistently truthful. All the information has been conveyed by this Government and by the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police to the New South Wales authorities. I believe that the House will be interested to note that quite recently-within the last hour or so-a statement was made by the Premier of New South Wales announcing the introduction into the New South Wales Parliament of legislation designed to enable the setting up of special commissions of inquiry. Those special commissions of inquiry will go to the allegations that have been made by Mr Bottom and, very interestingly, the allegations that have been made by the Deputy Leader of the National Party. Won' t that be interesting, Mr Speaker!

Mr Lionel Bowen —What about the statute of limitations?

Mr HAWKE —We will just beat the statute of limitations. A criminal offence allegedly took place in 1979, of which the Deputy Leader of the National Party says he had knowledge, and he has waited until 1983, when he is engaged in the decimation of the Liberal Party, to refer to it.

Mr Peacock —Have you heard of the Mafia in the United States? When were you with the Mafia?

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.

Mr HAWKE —Mr Speaker, I trust that the Leader of the Opposition will have the guts to direct a question or to move a substantive motion in place of the snide interjection he has just made. We will test the Leader of the Opposition. We will see whether he asks a question or moves a substantive motion.

Mr Peacock —Just answer the interjection. Tell us about your Mafia connections.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition is issuing invitations across the table. The honourable member knows that interjections imputing improper motives are not part of the proceedings of the House unless--

Mr Lusher —He is doing that to Sinclair.

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the honourable member for Hume. Interjections are not recorded in Hansard unless the Chair or the person addressing the House draws attention to them. I remind honourable members that all imputations of improper motives must be the subject of a substantive motion only. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr Sinclair —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. In the light of the ruling you have just given, can I ask the Prime Minister either to withdraw that imputation against me or to put it in the form of a substantive motion?

Mr SPEAKER —Order! Would the Deputy Leader of the National Party indicate the imputation?

Mr Sinclair —In that answer just given by the Prime Minister there was a suggestion that my name was specifically mentioned with respect to a delay in reporting on matters to which I have referred covering the administration of justice in New South Wales and a recollection of events which was reported to my electorate council immediately after my acquittal.

Mr HAWKE —You have to be joking; come on.

Mr Sinclair —The fact that the Prime Minister has little honour does not really do much credit to him. I ask that the honourable gentleman withdraw that imputation.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! If the Deputy Leader says it was incorrect I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw it.

Mr HAWKE —If what was incorrect? I have made no imputation.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.

Mr HAWKE —Braying is no substitute for thinking.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order. I must admit that I am at a loss to know what the imputation was. My understanding was that the Prime Minister mentioned something that has been in the Press in the last few days.

Mr Sinclair —It was the manner of his reference to it.

Mr SPEAKER —The Chair cannot ask for withdrawal of accents or inflections of voice. I can ask only for withdrawal of words. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr HAWKE —I will try to retain a more even accent but it is difficult in the face of the provocation one gets from the other side of the House. I was saying that within the last hour or so the Premier of New South Wales has made an announcement in regard to legislation to set up special commissions of inquiry which will deal with the two matters of the allegations by a Mr Bottom and a Mr Sinclair. In respect of the particular question referred to me let me quote from the news release which has just come out. It states:

In relation to the allegations concerning Mr Jackson and involving Federal Police tapes relating to three prisoners released from Broken Hill gaol, the Police Commissioner, after consultation with the Federal Police Commissioner, Mr Grey, has reopened inquiries and it is expected that Mr Abbott will submit a report on this matter early next week.

At that time, if there is any matter which is unresolved, then the Government will refer the Broken Hill allegations to the Special Commission of Inquiry.

It is to be hoped that the reference to the Commission will be made next week.

The position is quite clear, as I have made clear and as the Special Minister of State has made quite clear. As far as this Government is concerned, at all times we have acted expeditiously and honourably and conveyed all the information. The matter has been in the hands of the New South Wales Government. It is quite clear in respect of the action of the Government and its authorities that these matters will be fully investigated. We on this side of the House look forward fully to those investigations.

Mr Steele Hall —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Prime Minister has not addressed my question. It is a matter of the form of this House that he answer the question put to him.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.